Three Colours: Red

Three Colours: Red (French Trois Couleurs: Rouge) is a 1994 film, which forms part of the Three Colours trilogy by Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Red is the final film of the trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals (Liberté, égalité, fraternité), preceded first by Three Colours: Blue and then Three Colours: White. It was selected by the New York Times as one of 'The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.'

Three Colours Red theatrical poster 1994

Plot

Set in Geneva, Switzerland, and like its predecessors, a multi-layered story with many messages, Red has perhaps the simplest storyline in the Three Colours trilogy. It also received more English media recognition than Blue or White, after the critical successes of the first two parts of the trilogy.

The film begins with clips that track a telephone call between London and Geneva, where a naïve university student and part-time model, Valentine, is talking to her emotionally distant but possessive boyfriend. Valentine meets a lonely retired judge, Joseph Kern, after accidentally injuring his dog. The film eventually focuses on the consequences of Kern's surveillance of private telephone conversations, and the platonic friendship that develops between Kern and Valentine as he reveals his personal history to her.

A parallel story follows Valentine's neighbour, a legal student named Auguste, who is in and out of her daily routine without either realizing it. Auguste undergoes a personal betrayal by his girlfriend, Karin, whose conversations have been monitored by her neighbour, Kern. This is nearly identical to the experience that made Kern a bitter recluse, to the point that Auguste and Kern appear to be the same character at different points in time — a reversal of the story device in Kieślowski's earlier film The Double Life of Véronique, in which the lives of two identical characters followed different tracks.

Analysis

The varieties of interpersonal connections between the characters illustrate the film's theme, friendship or fraternity (the third principle of the motto of the French Republic on which the Three Colours series is based). Barriers to personal contact occur throughout the story in several forms: telephone communication, which allows interaction without any emotional commitment, and scenes in which the principal action occurs behind a window. Eventually, Kern's interaction with Valentine leads him to make steps toward reconnection with the people he has previously only observed through windows and wires. When he reveals his eavesdropping, his neighbours throw rocks through his windows, and the end of the film shows Kern listening to a mention of Valentine and Auguste on the news while watching the outside world through broken glass.

A technically and thematically sophisticated production, Red uses numerous devices to convey moods and ideas that sum up the aims of the entire trilogy while adding a new warmth, suggesting that the common unifying theme is love. As in the previous two films, a single colour recurs throughout: in telephone signals, on the canopy of the neighbourhood restaurant, on a character's automobile, and on a huge advertising banner featuring Valentine's facial profile. At the conclusion of the film, a final twist of fate brings together the main characters from the entire trilogy.

Cast

  • Irène Jacob - Valentine Dussaut
  • Jean-Louis Trintignant - The judge
  • Frédérique Feder - Karin
  • Jean-Pierre Lorit - Auguste Bruner
  • Samuel Le Bihan - Photographer
  • Marion Stalens - Veterinary surgeon
  • Teco Celio - Barman
  • Bernard Escalon - Record dealer
  • Jean Schlegel - Neighbour
  • Elzbieta Jasinska - Woman
  • Paul Vermeulen - Karen's friend
  • Jean-Marie Daunas - Theatre manager
  • Roland Carey - Drug dealer
  • Marc Autheman - Voice
  • Juliette Binoche - Julie Vignon (de Courcy)
  • Julie Delpy - Dominique
  • Benoît Régent - Olivier
  • Zbigniew Zamachowski - Karol Karol

Bibliography

  • Andrew, Geoff (1998) The 'Three Colours' Trilogy. London: British Film Institute. ISBN 0-85170-569-3
  • Coates, Paul (2002) Cinema, Religion, and the Romantic legacy. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-1585-5
  • Haltof, Marek (2004) The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski: Variations on Destiny and Chance. London: Wallflower Press. ISBN 1-903364-91-4

External links

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